COMMON MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Why do they stay? It is a question on the minds of many people. Relationship violence is often misunderstood due to a lack of information. This fuels the misconceptions and often leads to harsh judgment and victim blaming.
Domestic violence affects everyone. It is a major concern in our community, our schools and our government. If you have not been abused, chances are you know someone who has. Information is vital to awareness and prevention.
Victims often stay in abusive relationships because:
- they are afraid of retaliation by the abuser, such as assault, stalking, destruction of
property, suing for custody of their children or the abuse or kidnapping of their children or pets
- they have no job or money
- they have limited or no work skills, work experience or education
- they have been isolated and feel they have no one to turn to for help
- they are ashamed or feel they are to blame for the abuse
- they don’t believe they deserve better
- they may have lived with abuse all their life and think it is “normal”
- friends, family and law enforcement blame them or don’t believe them
- they feel law enforcement or the judicial system will not protect them or has failed them
- they think the abuser will change
- their cultural or religious convictions keep them from leaving the relationship
The following are some of the common myths surrounding domestic violence.
She must like it.
It must not be that bad if he is still with her.
Victims do not enjoy being abused and it is often worse than it appears. Victims often hide or downplay the abuse and batterers typically abuse when no one else is present.
Domestic violence is perpetrated by men.
Women abuse men as well. While studies and statistics show that the majority of victims are women, many cases go unreported by both men and women. Men are less likely to report abuse due to societal pressures regarding their role and strengths as men. They have been ridiculed for being assaulted by a woman.
She disrespected/provoked him. He had every right to be angry.
Anger is a natural reaction to being hurt or offended, but anger is a feeling. Verbal abuse, physical assaults and stalking require action.
In addition, what a batterer perceives to be disrespectful is often an exaggeration or distortion of the truth. “Provocation”, to an abuser, often means a lack of submission/compliance or a display of independence or self respect.
Abusers have no control over their anger.
Many abusers will only batter their partners, those closest to them or those they perceive to be weaker than them. They will often do so when there are no witnesses present. Many will leave marks on their victims in places that are not easily visible to others. If they had no control, they could not exercise this kind of selective restraint.
Domestic violence only happens to people of color, low income or little education.
Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It can happen to anyone regardless of education, culture, race, class, age, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, age and gender.
Domestic violence is caused by drugs or alcohol abuse.
Substance abuse can make a bad situation worse. However, it is not the cause of violence. The abuser is responsible for his/her choice to abuse.
Domestic violence is caused by stress.
Stress is a part of every day life for many people. It doesn’t always result in abuse.
Domestic violence is a private matter.
Domestic violence affects the victim, the abuser, their children, their loved ones and the community as a whole.
Domestic violence is not that common.
Violence is present in approximately 1/3 of relationships. This does not include the incidents that go unreported.
People make mistakes. No one is perfect.
Abuse is deliberate. One cannot mistakenly berate, stalk or assault another. Abuse is not a matter of being “human” or “not perfect”. It is a conscious decision to inflict emotional, psychological and/or physical harm onto another person.
There are many online resources that offer information on domestic violence and abuse. Awareness and education are key to combating abuse in its many forms. We encourage you to read through this site or the others on our Resources and Links page for more information.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, you can contact a coalition in your state or one of the following organizations that may apply to your situation:
The National Domestic Violence Helpline 800-799-SAFE (7233)
The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline 866-331-9474
The National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-HOPE (4673)
ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453)